Mike Daum went from absolute unknown to All-American at South Dakota State. The previous SDSU staff offered him after going to watch another player and seeing the Nebraska native make 12 3s in a grassroots game. After a redshirt season, Daum blossomed into the Summit League’s best player and later into one of the top college basketball players in the country, going to three NCAA tournaments along the way.
The next Jackrabbits’ star will likely be quite a bit less surprising.
Caleb Grill committed to South Dakota State on Wednesday, choosing the Jackrabbits over Power 5 offers and giving coach T.J. Otzelberger the program’s highest-rated recruit ever.
“South Dakota State was the first school to look at me,” Grill, a 6-foot-2 guard in the Class of 2019, told NBCSports.com. “That’s who I got the first offer from, and the first offer means the most from all the other ones because they’re the ones that found me and they’re the ones that recruited me.
“I don’t want to be at a program where I don’t fit their program. I want to fit a program, and I want to be what they need for a program and be a part of the style.”
Nebraska and Texas Tech, along with SMU, recently offered the Maize, Kan. native, and other high-major programs had begun to get involved, but Grill instead decided to pledge to a Summit League power.
“It was really cool (getting Power 5 offers),” Grill said, “but the thing that makes South Dakota State so special too is we were playing (last month) at the same time as KC Run GMC, who had numerous D1 players, it has amazing talent, and I thought it meant a lot that all the head coaches that (were recruiting) me went and watched that game.
“South Dakota State, TJ Otzelberger, was the only coach I saw there watching that game. It just shows how much they really, really wanted me because they were at every single game.”
Grill’s commitment is the latest example of the rising profile of South Dakota State, which has made the NCAA tournament in five of the last seven years. Daum has become a household name in college basketball circles, Otzelberger has recruited at a high level since coming over as an Iowa State assistant in 2016 and the Jacks will be heavy favorites to win the Summit again. It’s basically inevitable they’ll be a trendy mid-major pick come tourney time.
Now they’ve got a player to build around in a post-Daum era.
“I feel 100 percent confident on the decision that I made,” Grill said. “They have elite players on their team. They’ve got a couple players that can play on some of the top teams in the country like Daum and David Jenkins, Jr.
“I think they could easily play at a POwer 5 school, but they love it there, and I think I’ll love it there, too.”